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In Old Pueblo, Roadrunners trying to make new fans of hockey

By - Nov 20, 2016

By Harley Yearout/for the Sporting Nation


The minor league affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes found a new home in Tucson, Arizona, to open up the 2016 hockey season and potentially many seasons to come.

The Tucson Roadrunners were relocated in Tucson to begin the 2016 and have been thriving ever since.

The Roadrunners are one of two main events in the area, the University of Arizona Wildcats being the other. The addition of a professional hockey team in Tucson has fans and members of the organization excited for the future, members of the organization say.

“I think it's a great opportunity for us to be the only professional sports team in town,” Tyler Kern, senior account executive for groups and amateur hockey, said. 

“Pro hockey is new in Tucson and getting everyone to come to the rink to experience the Roadrunners is our goal,” President of the club Bob Hoffman said.  “We feel once they do, they will be life-long fans.”

The relocation to Tucson was made by the Coyotes after their purchase of the club, formerly known as the Springfield Falcons.

The American Hockey League relocated them to Tucson after the purchase made by the Coyotes.

“I feel like Tucson is a great place for the Roadrunners,” Julie Edwards, senior account executive of ticket Sales and service, said. “Tucson is a large city that deserves a professional team to support.”

Being a new team in the area comes with troubles, especially for a club trying to grow its fan base.

“The biggest difficulty that the Tucson Roadrunners face right now is that so many people still have not heard of our team because we are so new,” Edwards said. “The ways to battle that is telling anyone I meet about the team, wearing team merchandise around town, posting on social media, really anything I can do to get the word out."

The Roadrunners, like any sports team, rely on their fans for the income. A big part of every sports franchise’s income is season tickets.

“Season tickets include 35 games and range from $350 to $1750 depending on where you sit,” Edwards said.

Edwards said sales have been good this season, with raised expectations for the future. “This season, we are at approximately 1,300 season tickets and still adding more every day," she said.

But Hoffman understands that while money is important, the fans' happiness with prices and quality comes first. 

“Making a profit is obviously the bottom line but if people feel they are being priced out of enjoying the items, they will never return for purchases,” he said.
 

The Roadrunners’ website sells many different brands of clothing from big companies like Nike and Adidas.

“One of the most important parts of merchandising is finding the items that people are demanding and keeping them affordable,” Hoffman said.

Another fan favorite and moneymaker is the concession stands.

Tucson Arena, where the Roadrunners play, is catered by a company named SAVOR. “Concessions add to the overall experience,” Hoffman said. “Fans need to feel a value and feel the choices and quality are worth their dollars.”

 

Even in their first year in Tucson, members of the front office seem to believe they found a good home for the future.

“There is a strong base of hockey fans here and they are doing a great job spreading the word and introducing friends to hockey,” Edwards said.

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